Peace with Justice for the whole Creation - Confession of Sin and Conversion to God (Metanoia)

41. Faced with the threats to the future of humanity we want to affirm the truth of the Gospel. Listening to the word of God, we perceive our responsibility and we believe that the future will become open as we turn to Jesus Christ. The impasses in which we find ourselves ultimately have their roots in the fact that God's ways have been abandoned. We wish to proclaim that God opens the future to those who turn to Him.

42. But we are not in a position to speak as if we were in complete possession of the final truth. Churches and Christians have failed in many respects and have not always lived up to the standards of God's calling sometimes even failing to proclaim the truth of Jesus Christ. We are grateful for the witness of the generations which have preceded us. We give thanks for the commitment of many Christians who have devoted their lives even to the point of martyrdom, in the service of Christ. There were in the churches prophetic voices warning in time against the impending dangers. But at the same time we have to admit that the witness of all Christians has not been clear enough. For too long we have been blind to the implications and demands of the Gospel in respect to justice, peace and the integrity of creation. Together with others we stand in need of a new beginning.

43. We confess our failure both collectively and as individual persons. As we follow Christ we are constantly faced with the challenges of His calling and have to examine our lives. True faith in Christ is always personal but at the same time never private. As we follow Christ we realize that we are caught up in structures which propagate injustice, violence, waste and destruction. They are the result of human sin and often seem to determine the road to the future. The path towards overcoming such structures begins with common confession of sin. As we turn together to God we may be given the freedom to initiate new departures. The ecumenical process for justice, peace and the integrity of creation is for the churches a movement of repentance and new life.

  • We have failed to witness to God's care for all and every creature and to develop a life-style expressing our self-understanding as part of God's creation.
  • We have failed to overcome the divisions among the churches and have often misused the authority and power given to us to strengthen limited and false solidarities like racism, sexism and nationalism.
  • We have caused wars and have failed to use all opportunities of working towards reconciliation and mediation; we have condoned and often too easily justified wars.
  • We have failed to challenge with sufficient consistency political and economic systems which misuse power and wealth, exploit resources for their self-interest and perpetuate poverty and marginalisation.
  • We have failed by regarding Europe as the centre of the world and regarding ourselves as superior to other parts of the world.
  • We have failed by not constantly witnessing to the sanctity and dignity of all life, to the equal respect that is due to all persons, and to the need to provide the opportunity for all persons to exercise their rights.

44. God offers new life and makes us free. Forgiveness does not wipe out the consequences of past mistakes and errors. We remain identified with the past and have to accept responsibility for the situation which has emerged. But forgiveness opens anew the perspective of the reign of God with its renewing forces.  

45. To seek the forgiveness of God is to respond to the call to conversion. And conversion to God (metanoia) means more than a mere acceptance of forgiveness. Conversion signifies a change of heart, a change of attitudes and mentalities. Our conversion to God demands that we actively turn to God's justice, that we embrace God's shalom, that we live in harmony with God's entire creation.  

Today, conversion to God (Metanoia) means a commitment to seeking ways

  • out of the divisions between rich and poor, between powerful and powerless,
  • out of structures which cause hunger, deprivation and death,
  • out of the unemployment of millions of people,
  • out of a world in which human rights are violated and where people are tortured and isolated,
  • out of a way of life in which moral and ethical values are undermined or even cast aside,

into a society people have equal rights and live together in solidarity.

Today, conversion to God (Metanoia) means a commitment to seeking ways

  • out of the exclusive divisions fostered by racial, ethnic and cultural discrimination,
  • out of the disrespect and the marginalisation of the Two Thirds World,
  • out of the heritage of antisemitism in our societies and churches and its tragic consequences,

into a plurality of cultures, traditions and races in Europe.

Today, conversion to God (Metanoia) means a commitment to seeking ways

  • out of the divisions between men and women in church and society,
  • out of the devaluation and misunderstanding of the indispensable contributions of women,
  • out of the ideologically fixed roles and stereotypes for men and women,
  • out of the refusal to recognize the gifts given to women in the life and decision-making processes of the churches,

into a renewed community of men and women in the church and society: women share an equal responsibility with men on all levels and can contribute all their talents, insights, values and experiences.

Today, conversion to God (Metanoia) means a commitment to seeking ways

  • out of warfare and ideologies which disregard the divine in every person,
  • out of the idolatry as well as the concrete structures of violence and
  • out of the destructive consequences of the current massive levels of arms spending,
  • out of a situation in which military force or the threat of military force seems necessary to preserve or achieve human rights,

into a society where peacemaking and the peaceful resolution of conflict are upheld, and into a community of nations who contribute to one another's welfare in solidarity

Today, conversion to God (Metanoia) means a commitment to seeking ways

  • out of the divisions between humanity and the rest of creation,
  • out of the dominance of human beings over nature,
  • out of a life-style and of ways of production which violate nature,
  • out of an individualism that violates the integrity of creation for the sake of pursuing private interests,

into a community of human beings with all creatures where their rights and their integrity are respected.

Today, conversion to God (Metanoia) means a commitment to seeking ways

  • out of the divisions in which the churches continue to live,
  • out of the suspicion and hostility in their mutual relations,
  • out of the burden of paralysing memories of the past,
  • out of intolerance and the refusal to recognise religious freedom,

into a community which recognizes its needs to be constantly forgiven and renewed and together gives praise to god for his love and gifts.

© 2001 by Ulrich Schmitthenner • Bildschirm-Version